Washington State will practice this morning, then catch a bus to Spokane for the flight to Phoenix. And when Pullman looked like a snow globe in the hands of a hyperactive 6-year-old yesterday, I'm sure every one of the Cougars were looking forward to getting into the sun, if only for a little while. But this is a business trip for them, and they know it. Practice Tuesday was sharp, productive and focused. Read on for more thoughts and some links.
• First off, I have to apologize for not posting much yesterday afternoon. Between the drive and a couple of surprises when I got to Spokane, I was only able to add the football schedule update. So let's get right to this morning's post.
In his media calls yesterday, WSU coach Tony Bennett expressed his frustration with Saturday's loss, which he knows he shares with his players and the fans. But he also praised the way his team played in the second half against UCLA and didn't want that washed away by the failure to score at the end of the game or Saturday's finish. He thought the last 17 minutes or so of the Bruin game was how he wants his team to play all the time, with focused defense and well-executed offense. He also felt that defensive effort carried over into the USC game, calling it the Cougars' best defensive effort of the season, while admitting the loss of Dwight Lewis hamstrung the Trojans quite a bit. Still, the way WSU defended the ball, pinched the gaps, got back in transition and rebounded pleased him.
All of which got me to thinking. When are the Cougars going to put it all together for 40 minutes? The offense of the UCLA second half – when they hit as many shots from the floor in 20 minutes as they did in the entire USC game – coupled with the defense against the Trojans. Add in getting to the line like they did against Oregon if you want, and that Cougar team could probably defeat anyone on the West Coast. But that team has yet to show up for a 40-minute game. If it ever does, then WSU would be a force. Which leads me to a question. Do you think it will show up this year? Or is this going to be a season of up-and-downs? Let me know what you think.
• OK, let's get to a couple links. My favorite for the day comes from Bud Withers in the Times. It's his column and it's on referee Dave Libbey. One thing Bud didn't go into, and if you talk to players and former players, it's how Libbey deals with players. I've been told more than a few times his attitude and demeanor is something that rubs in their craw. ... Arizona State is one of the best teams in the nation, but their crowds haven't been the best, according to this Arizona Republic story. We'll see how it is tomorrow night. ... The freshmen in the Pac-10 aren't making as big an impact this year as last, according to Dan Raley's Pac-10 notebook in the P-I. ... Finally, one local player who will be a freshman at WSU next year is Shadle Park's Anthony Brown. He had a monster game last night as Shadle stopped Gonzaga Prep.
• That's it for this morning. We're headed to Phoenix later this morning, but we'll post our advance here this afternoon. I promise. Till then ...